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Chelsea £1 billion spend, Cole Palmer thoughts, Raheem Sterling memories – Embargoed section: Pep Guardiola’s pre-Chelsea press conference part two



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Manchester City host Chelsea in their latest Premier League encounter on Saturday evening, welcoming Mauricio Pochettino’s side to the Etihad Stadium.

City come into the clash on a run of 11 successive wins across all competitions, with their latest victory coming in the UEFA Champions League last-16 and a 1-3 advantage on the road to Copenhagen in the first-leg.

Goals from Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva, and Phil Foden ensured that Manchester City have a significant step in the quarter-finals of Europe’s premier club competition ahead of part two with the Danish club early next month.

It was a 2-0 win over Everton in the Premier League last time at the Etihad Stadium, as City kept a rare clean sheet in a campaign that is proving to be somewhat of a struggle on a defensive front for the reigning champions.

City will not be without their injury concerns this weekend however, with Jack Grealish and Josko Gvardiol ruled out of the contest and Bernardo Silva’s availability subject to a late fitness assessment in Friday afternoon’s training session.

Ahead of the meeting between Manchester City and Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium, Pep Guardiola has addressed the media in part two of his pre-match press conference at the City Football Academy!

On the part Raheem Sterling played in Manchester City’s trophy success

“Unbelievable. When he was here, especially in the first season, we could not think about what we achieved without him. He was an incredible, important player for us. Really one.”

On whether he saw a lot of improvement in Raheem Sterling over the years at Manchester City

“He has to talk about that… but his contribution was massive. Really important. His speed, his continued movement, he was a really important player.”

On Erling Haaland’s family bereavement and whether he is having to go home to Norway

“He’s here. (Next week?) I don’t know, I don’t have info, but I don’t know. (But is he OK?) Of course he’s sad but he played really well in Copenhagen.”

On Gary Neville not watching Manchester City on Tuesday because ‘he felt bored’ as they are so good

“No, thank you for the compliment. What can I say? It’s fine, what can I say? Everything is so difficult in football, so difficult. You have to do many things to try to win games, and games over many, many years. What this group of players have done for many years and this season as well is admirable.

“It’s hats off to my players, it’s just unbelievable when they’re consistent and the way we take seriously our opponents how good they are, and I have the same opinion before I played Copenhagen; it’s a really incredible and difficult (team) to attack, really one.

“If you are not perfect in many, many things or really, really good in many, many aspects of the game, we cannot achieve what we achieved in the last-16. Still we have one game to play here and we will take it seriously. This is the only thing I can say to my players. Hopefully we can continue in that way.”

On whether Manchester City get enough credit for all of the work

“Of course we have credit. We are admired. I am pretty sure of that. The people, the world of football, knows how difficult it is, being six or seven years there and there again, one week, another one, in all competitions. I am going to tell you something; in the future you will not forget. It looks easy, but it’s not. You will remember that sentence. It’s easy, but it’s not.”

On Jack Grealish’s injury uncertainty

“He’s injured but I don’t know… I know he made a scan, he has a problem in a muscular issue, but I don’t know how big is the damage, the days, I don’t know.”

On whether the uncertainty over timeframe is normal after two days

“He did it when we arrived and the day after (Copenhagen). We could not do it because the doctor said to me that the machine was broken. That’s why it took one more day, it was yesterday (Thursday), but it was my day off and I was so concerned about Chelsea and I didn’t speak with the doctor, and still I didn’t see this morning. So now, when I arrive back from this lovely press conference I will ask him.”

On why Jack Grealish came back on against Copenhagen

“Yeah because he wanted to play, but at the end I said, ‘If you feel something muscular, if you play the damage will be bigger’. At the end, it’s no sense. If it’s a knock or something like that, you can continue, but it’s muscular. You have to sprint, you have to run, and you cannot do it so it’s no sense to… I know he wanted (to continue). But we took the right decision, for sure.”

On Chelsea spending £1Bn and are 10th in the Premier League

“You have to understand I will not talk for one second about Chelsea. Full respect for them. I don’t know the situation.”

On the decision to sell Cole Palmer

“For a young player, always we want them to stay, but it’s normal. After two or three seasons he wanted more minutes than he got last season, and I understand completely. When a player gets that minutes that I didn’t give to him for the reasons that everybody knows, it’s just for the other players. But we know the quality that he has and the impact that he has shown so far is enormous. It’s not just goals, assists, it’s the quality and we knew it and he’s an incredible threat for Chelsea.”

On whether Manchester City will not be fully appreciated until it’s all finished

“I don’t think so. I think the opponents respect us. Always I’ve said the same, sometimes for the people it’s not enough what we’re doing and I know how difficult it is, I know it from my experience as a football player, when I was a manager in the other clubs and here. To show that consistency and after winning the treble, still we are there and seeing how we fought for each other and our many things.

“We were at 1-2 (against Copenhagen) and continued before the 1-3 we had two or three chances to score the 1-3, the mentality we have to go and go and go, and at the end it depends on us. Knowing how satisfied, we know that, that is what belongs to us. If the people don’t appreciate it or don’t want it, it doesn’t matter. It’s not a big, big problem.

“And I think they appreciate it, honestly. World football, I think they know how difficult it is what we’re doing but still we are here and want to continue doing it. But what is important is to feel that still we, ourselves, it’s not necessary for the compliments from outside or regrets from the outside to be happy or unhappy. I think we are happy with what we have done in these years and still we are doing, knowing that it will be extremely difficult and starting from tomorrow.”

On whether the cases of Cole Palmer/Jadon Sancho show the patience of Phil Foden

“No, it’s not about that. Phil Foden has more minutes than Cole Palmer and Jadon Sancho. If Cole Palmer would have the minutes that I gave to Phil from the beginning, Cole Palmer would be here. But I didn’t give it to him, it’s my responsibility.

“Why? Because Bernardo (Silva), Riyad (Mahrez), I don’t know, Phil. It was that in that moment I chose the other ones. After one season it’s nice, second season, but the third season, ‘Oh guys, I want to play, I don’t want to see the bench’, and it’s normal! We understand as a club and we got a good offer at an incredibly top club in Chelsea and I’m really happy for him. At all the clubs this happens, this kind of things, but it’s not about one situation is different.”